Thu, Dec 01, 2005 - Page 10 News List

Vibo finally ready to launch its 3G service

PHONES The nation's newest telecoms service provider plans to enter the market with the fastest transmission speeds, best rates and richest content

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

A woman demonstrates the video-conferencing service offered by Vibo Telecom on a mobile handset in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Vibo Telecom Inc (威寶電信) will launch its first service package on Tuesday, offering rates on voice calls that are up to 45 percent lower than those charged by the established firms, the latest player in the nation's telecoms market said yesterday.

"As the nation's newest telecoms service provider, Vibo will offer the fastest transmission, best rates and richest content," Vibo chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄) told a press conference yesterday.

Hsu said that Vibo, the nation's second pure third-generation (3G) mobile operator after Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless Communications Inc's (亞太行動寬頻) debut in 2003, will launch its 3G service on Tuesday.

Vibo had initially planned to introduce its service by the end of last year.

The company said it plans to increase its number of base stations to 3,000 by the end of the year to boost network coverage.

In a bid to lure customers away from the existing players, Vibo's rates will be set at just more than half the price charged by the nation's three biggest mobile carriers, led by Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信).

"We will break the rules by charging users the same rate whether they call other Vibo users or subscribers on other carriers," Hsu said.

Other carriers offer discounts only on voice calls within the same network.

Vibo subscribers using the "386" package will pay NT$4.8 per minute for voice calls, making Vibo's rates 44 percent cheaper than the NT$9 Chunghwa Telecom charges on a similar package for calls outside its own network.

Although Vibo is a latecomer in the local market, the company shares the ambition of its bigger rivals. Vibo aims to have 1 million subscribers by the end of next year, company president David Wang (王柏堂) told reporters yesterday.

"Our first priority is to build our customer base," Wang said.

That could present a challenge in light of Vibo's late entry into the market, as well as the nation's slow adoption of the cutting-edge 3G service, said Daniel Hsiao (蕭黎明), a telecoms analyst with Taiwan Ratings Corp, a local arm of ratings agency Standard & Poor's.

"Asia Pacific Broadband Wireless Communications has set a good example for us," Hsiao said.

The money-losing 3G pioneer attracted 700,000 users this year after operating for two years.

"I doubt whether Vibo will be able to bring much competition to Taiwan's telecoms market, or will pose a threat to the nation's three major mobile players" Hsiao said.

Chunghwa Telecom, Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) and Taiwan Mobile Co (台灣大哥大) have a combined client base of 20 million mobile users out of the nation's 23 million in people.

"Although Vibo has deep pockets, a low-price strategy is not a cure-all," Hsiao said.

Vibo, which was established in 2002, is 53-percent owned by Hsu's Kinpo Electronics Inc (金寶電子) and laptop-computer maker Compal Electronics Inc (仁寶電腦), according to the company.

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